Fish In Jerusalem- really!
People all over the world love to eat fish, and Israelis are no exception.
Jerusalemites love their fish! Today, in Jerusalem, one can find almost every fish, from Gefilte Fish to Sea Bream, Talapiah, Trout, St Peters, and more. It seems like restaurants are bending over backwards to offer all different types of fish on their menus. There are many types of fish for the Kosher consumer, as well as crustaceans and other sea creatures for those who enjoy them.
This is quite puzzling. Jerusalem is a landlocked city, after all. I sometimes think of Jerusalem as an Island of Paradise, but without the water. So it’s only logical that all the fish we eat in Jerusalem are imported.
The question is… from where?
Recently I visited the new Israel Aquarium in Jerusalem.
What a magnificent place! We were escorted for 90 minutes by a very knowledgable Marine Wildlife guide, who introduced us to the fish in the waters around Israel. Israel is bordered by four bodies of water- the Mediterranean Sea, the Sea of Galilee (a.k.a Lake Tiberias), the Dead Sea (a.k.a the Salt Sea) and the Red Sea. All four Seas have different waters, different air & water temperatures, different salinity- all of which results in different fish and marine wildlife.
Most of the fish we eat here in Israel comes from three of these four seas- the Dead Sea, as its name suggests, is so salty that it does not contain any living creatures.
As we walked through the Aquarium, we were able to watch fish & wildlife from all three seas. In each glass enclosure the fish swim around as if they were in their natural habitat. To them, it did not matter that they were in Jerusalem, a city with no sea of its own. The developers of this amazing site were able to recreate “home” for all different types of fish from all of these seas. They did this by using a unique system of creating artificial sea water using chemicals, known as “Chemical Water”. They were also able to reproduce much of the sea life habitats, such as corals, without using the real thing. The plants, corals, and sea life that is recreated in each enclosure is so lifelike, that the fish swim and immerse themselves in their surroundings effortlessly. Divers enter the enclosures daily to ensure that all is well and to clean the glass. The enclosures are so clean, you feel like you can reach your arm up and catch a fish- there are even glass domes where kids or adults can walk inside and feel as if they are “under the sea”!
The purpose and vision of the Aquarium is to educate people in Israel about sea life around Israel. Thus the signs and names of the fish in the aquarium are in 3 languages, Hebrew, English and Arabic. Many fish that we eat today are endangered species. Some are not able to reproduce in the numbers that they used to. This may be due to climate change, construction and water diversion, and human consumption. The Aquarium hopes to make people aware of the dangers to our seas and to the sea life within them. At the end of the tour, visitors have the opportunity to join and be part of a statewide movement to protect the fish and the seas. If you choose to do so, your picture is taken and automatically inserted into their “Wall of Protection” for everyone to see.
Currently the Israel Aquarium is in its preview stage. They offer 90 minute guided tours in Hebrew, English, and Arabic. Advance Reservations are required. In the future, they plan to open the Aquarium to the general public throughout the day. I highly suggest that you include a visit on your next Jerusalem Tour.
For more info check out the Israel Aquarium in Jerusalem: https://www.israel-aquarium.org.il/english,
or contact me:firstname.lastname@example.org to include a visit on your next tour.